Mexican and U.S. authorities found a tunnel that connected Matamoros and Brownsville .

The U.S. Border Patrol discovered the tunnel on August 24 and immediately notified Mexican authorities.

Hermann Rivera, a spokesperson for the U.S. Border Patrol confirmed local, state, and federal authorities are investigating the tunnel located under the Rio Grande.

In Mexico, Luis Alberto Rodríguez said the Defense Ministry ( Sedena ) already took control over the tunnel on the Mexican side. Rodríguez said the Tamaulipas government collaborates with seven federal agencies in the U.S.

Mexican soldiers were deployed outside the tunnel on Tuesday.


The Gulf Cartel controls Matamoros, Tamaulipas. Authorities suspect this drug trafficking organization built the tunnel to traffic drugs, weapons, or human trafficking.

Tamaulipas is home to two of the most powerful and violent drug trafficking organizations in Mexico: the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas, now known as the Northeast Cartel.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection released a statement to confirm the discovery of the tunnel: “ On August 24, 2020, the Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley Sector received information that a tunnel was discovered on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande, south of Brownsville, Texas. The Border Patrol is working with Federal, state, and international partners in the investigation.”

In recent years, Mexican drug traffickers have turned to tunnels for their illegal operations. Infamous drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was fond of them.


Tunnels between Mexico and the U.S.

In early August, authorities discovered an incomplete tunnel from Mexico to Arizona. Authorities said it was perhaps “the most sophisticated tunnel in U.S. history.”

The tunnel intended for smuggling ran from a neighborhood in San Luis Río Colorado, Mexico to San Luis, Arizona, where it stopped short of reaching the surface. It was built in an area that is not conducive to tunnels because of the terrain, and it had a ventilation system, water lines, electrical wiring, a rail system, and extensive reinforcement, federal officials said.

“What makes this one unique is that the terrain in Yuma is very hard... the sand is very loose, and most of them end up caving. So the fact that the material was very well built and it had ventilation, it had water, it had a rail system with walls, roof, floor, electrical, makes this one a very unique type of tunnel,” said Angel Ortiz, assistant special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations in Yuma. HSI is a division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“This appears to be the most sophisticated tunnel in U.S. history, and certainly the most sophisticated I’ve seen in my career,” said Carl E. Landrum, acting chief patrol agent with the Border Patrol’s Yuma Sector.

Homeland Security Investigations started excavating around the tunnel in late July after someone reported a sinkhole near the border wall. HSI already had reports of potential tunnel activity in that area already, and the agency began drilling, Ortiz said. A camera was sent 7.6 meters underground, and the tunnel was discovered.

Investigators did not know what exactly the tunnel would have been used for, since it was incomplete. They also did not know how long it had been there, because they do not know what kind of equipment was used to build it. If it was done by hand, it would be many months of construction to get as far as it did, Ortiz said. But if the builders used heavy machinery it would “potentially a few months, not that long of a period,” Ortiz said.


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